Chavismo accuses “the empire” of “stealing Citgo” on Twitter

Chavismo accuses “the empire” of “stealing Citgo” on Twitter

Published on 19 May 2023

New pro-government campaign

  • Since May 3, MIPPCI has been promoting hashtags in favor of the protection of the Venezuelan oil company Citgo.
  • With trends such as #CitgoEsDeVenezuela (Citgo is Venezuelan) and #VamosALaDefensaDeCitgo (Let’s defend Citgo), the Chavista government seeks to create a narrative that promotes the idea that whatever happens to Citgo is the fault of the Biden administration.

The Ministry of Communication and Information (MIPPCI), together with radical chavismo on Twitter, managed to position hashtags linked to the issue of Citgo, following the real possibility that the largest Venezuelan oil company abroad may be seized.

Although the US government has protected Citgo for more than 3 years from possible seizure by PDVSA and Venezuelan debt creditors, on April 30 Reuters reported that Justice Department officials told a federal court that they will no longer block the possibility of these creditors reaching negotiations with PDVSA’s assets on US soil.

From that moment on, both MIPPCI and the radical ruling party set out to push Twitter trends on the issue, with a clear narrative that blames the “empire” for what might happen.

We tell you what happened

On April 28, the Department of Justice filed a letter in the U.S. District Court in Delaware to announce that the Treasury Department, which has blocked transactions involving U.S. assets of Venezuela, “will not take coercive measures” to stop the auction or a negotiated agreement about Citgo.

Since the announcement, alarm bells have been ringing again. Citgo, which has been protected after the installation of Juan Guaidó’s Interim Government, could finally cease to be so and face a negotiation or auction as a measure taken by Venezuelan debt creditors who have not been paid by the Maduro Government.

As a result of this, the Chavista machinery on Twitter was activated to generate a matrix of opinion that blames the US government for whatever happens with Citgo.

On May 3, MIPPCI promoted #CitgoEsDeVenezuela as the second hashtag of the day, with approximately 425,000 tweets, while on the same day, Chavista leader Diosdado Cabello promoted the hashtag #NoHanPodidoNiPodrán from his program “Con el Mazo Dando”, which managed to trend with approximately 21,300 tweets.

The following days, the MIPPCI line continued with the Citgo issue:

Finally, Diosdado Cabello re-trended on Wednesday, May 10 with the hashtag #LosGringosNuncaCumplen, which reached approximately 22,400 tweets and one more on May 17, #LosGringosSiempreMienten, which accumulated around 27,100 tweets.

Is the loss of Citgo the empire’s fault?

Houston-based Citgo is the seventh-largest refiner in the United States. It has plants in Louisiana, Illinois and Texas, as well as pipelines and a gasoline distribution network that supplies 4,200 outlets in the eastern half of the United States. The oil company reported a record profit of US$2.8 billion last year and could be valued at US$13 billion.

Although Venezuela and PDVSA have a large debt in bonds that they have not paid, in principle, the first to go for Citgo shares would be the Canadian mining firm Crystallex, which was approved a compensation of US$1.4 billion for the losses caused after the expropriation of its concessions and investments in the country.

However, Crystallex is not the only case claiming compensation. There are the holders of the Pdvsa 2020 Bond, which have as collateral 50.1 % of Citgo’s shares; and Conoco-Phillips which a US court favored with a compensation for $ 8.7 billion.

In fact, in December 2018, when there was no presence of an interim government all analysts gave Citgo for lost. The reason for this? Maduro had neither the capacity, nor the willingness to pay the debts.

At that time, what made it possible to safeguard Citgo was the recognition of the interim government and the negotiation with the U.S. Government to block any embargo against the company.

Citgo is saved again

Finally, on May 5, Citgo got a bottle of oxygen in front of creditors after federal judge Paul B. Matey, of the Third Circuit, favorably granted a motion filed by the Ad Hoc Board of Directors of Petroleos de Venezuela, which is recognized by the U.S. government and the U.S. justice system.

The judge’s decision gives Citgo and Venezuela more time to seek a negotiated solution that includes the government of Nicolás Maduro, representatives of the opposition and the creditors themselves interested in recovering their money and investments.

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